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 |  Jun 16 2010, 9:34 PM

If you want to work at Volkswagen, you’d better start hitting the gym. This is especially true if you work at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, where new hires are required not only to take the usual job training, but also go through a fitness program.

In the attempt to build an “industrial athlete” – one who can lift, grip, bend and push without tiring –VW has opened its training academy at the $1 billion plant site. In preparation for the projected production start early next year, dozens of workers have already started pumping up before they start pumping out new cars.

In a region best known for its love of Little Debbie snack cakes, MoonPies and Krystal burgers, trainees are up to the physical challenge. In fact, some of the new hires have reportedly lost as much as 30 pounds after three weeks of training.

These workouts are also aimed at building better product quality when the plant starts rolling out midsized sedans. Volkswagen Chattanooga spokesman Scott Wilson says the time spent in the classroom, hands-on training and fitness training are all “focused on getting each and every one of us, no matter what our job is at the plant, prepared to show up and perform at the highest level of professional excellence.”

The lucky ones who have been hired have had the help of fitness trainers that put them through “on-the-clock” workouts. The workouts follow health testing and are individually tailored to their future production jobs that include the paint shop, body shop and assembly.

Workouts are done daily and last about two hours. Exercises are directly linked to movements plant employees will have to do every day and include stretching, cardiovascular strength, endurance, grip and how much they can push and pull.

[Source: USA Today]